Exam results are often a cause for great anguish to unsuccessful students and their parents. Incidence of suicides seems to have become an annual phenomenon. It is a given that all children are not equally gifted or have the ability to memorise their lessons in order to score high marks. Seven years ago, when Suketu Gosh failed in his HSC exam, he and his father (a friend of mine), took it stoically. Sukethu had a propensity for repeating his classes. ‘He falls in love with them and lingers there. Even benches and desks in his class may get promotion, but not Suketu,’ his father used to bemoan, crestfallen. Thus the futility of sending him for higher studies was obvious to him.
He decided, in the teeth of his wife’s protests, to make Suketu work as a security guard for whom there was then, as now, great demand what with the increasing sense of insecurity in the minds of people, thanks to mounting crimes, not to speak of the frequent reports about terrorist activities. The lady of the house, however, threw scorns over the job. She had set her heart on her son’s becoming a doctor or engineer. Brushing aside her objections, my friend said, “Work deserves to be respected. Suketu will come up in life, and won’t come to grief by doing this job.” Tall and hefty, Suketu found his true calling in the job of a security guard in a small firm that catered to the security requirements of banks, financial institutions and multinational companies. Soon thereafter the Ghosh family moved to Delhi, and, inexplicably, I never heard from my friend since then.
Recently, on being elected secretary of our housing society, I was obliged to look for security guards. We had a succession of them with us, but none stayed longer than a few months, as they always looked for greener pastures. A Google search yielded names of a few security agencies, and I visited the office of one Ghosh Dynamic Security Agency that nestled in a new glass and steel building in a posh locality of the city.
The proprietor was a giant of a man, whose dark blue jacket seemed to enhance his enormity. I recognised him in a jiffy. I was aghast. The ‘security guard’ was now running a firm, employing several people! Well, Suketu had come up in life as his father thought he would. Though not academic, Suketu was smart. He had doubtless lived up to his father’s expectations. “It was thoughtful of dad to get me a job when I failed in HSC. Else I would have been languishing in college now. He knew that I would not come a cropper by doing the job of a security guard, though my mom looked down upon it. He taught me the dignity of work,” said Suketu, with a choked voice.
I was delighted with this happy turn of events, and was on the verge of asking him about my friend when a portrait, hanging on the wall behind Suketu, with a garland of fresh flowers on it, caught my eye. I got my answer to the question that died on my lips.